It’s not the sort of groovy campaign slogan I’d have printed on a t-shirt; not a badge of honour to wear. It’s policy recommendation territory. Sorry – did I wake you there? But I’d urge you to read it and sign if you feel you want to.
If I was living with a life-limiting condition (which in fact could the definition of mortality), I’d want to know I could get the care, attention and support I needed and would be afforded the space, time and dignity I wanted.
Early diagnosis is helpful. Treatment may be. The right to be supported without accepting medical treatment also matters to me. As does acknowledging the needs of my spiritual (not religious) self … listening to music, seeing the sunrise, gentleness.
Being allowed to die and having help with pain is up there too.
Palliative care – a definition
According to the World Health Organisation: “Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” This EU Declaration, launched in October 2014, aims to build support for a common approach and calls upon policy and decision makers at regional, national and international level to work with these 10 points:
1. Recognise that the delivery of and access to high quality palliative care is a public health prioritywhich requires a public health approach.
2. Develop or redraft national and international health care policies, such as policies on healthy ageing, long-term care and dementia, to include palliative care as an essential component.
3. Develop or redraft palliative care-specific policies to include referral criteria that allow patients and their family timely access to palliative care consistent with their level of need, regardless of diagnosis, age, prognosis, estimated life expectancy or care setting.
4. Develop or redraft policies to include mechanisms to ensure access to specialist multidisciplinary palliative care services or teams in all health care settings.
5. Promote a paradigm shift in health and social care towards basic palliative care skills for all health care professionals, to empower them to deliver patient-centred family-focused care for all people with a life-limiting illness, based on personalised or tailored care plans, with attention to all needs of the patient and his or her family.
6. Support inter-professional and multi-disciplinary collaboration as a cornerstone of high-qualitycare and education in palliative care.
7. Invest in curriculum development and education in palliative care across all disciplines of health and social care at undergraduate and post-graduate level, and establish palliative care as a specialty.
8. Promote public awareness through community level approaches: education of the public and training of family carers and volunteers.
9. Increase funding opportunities for national and international research in palliative care.
10. Establish continuous mechanisms to monitor and improve the quality of and access to palliative care.